We are back again with the podcast! And the podcast now has a new home at anchor.fm/manaburnt
You can also follow the podcast on Spotify here, and we should soon have pages on Apple and Google podcasts!
In this latest episode we finally talk about comics. We are joined by our friends Diptarup Ghosh Dastidar and Jaq Greenspon. Both, along with Lilly are comics experts and scholars! … Alex is here too.
Here we have the first episode of our new Manaburnt Podcast!
The aim here is to just have some informal chats with interesting geeky people, and see what comes of it! For this episode Lilly and Myself are joined by our friends Mike and Jaq. We kick things off with an impromptu chat about fencing, of all things, before getting onto RPGs and Superhero Comics, and then both combined!
Hope you enjoy, and thanks for listening!
With the news (LONG AWAITED NEWS!!! YEARS!!!) that volume 4 is finally coming our way, the fans of the work of Arthur du Pins can finally put their minds at ease: the cliffhanger will end! We will know what happens with the park, and what´s up with our favourite, sassiest witch, Gretchen and the poor man who is Aurelien. And the others of course. However, it has recently come to my attention – mostly due to my super hype and the lack of response back – that, apparently, this is not so well-known and received in the comic sphere as I thought it would. Which is bizarre (IMO) considering that the author has just projected the animated adaptation of the entire thing at Cannes just last year, and the new comic coming back, you´d think we´d be on it…But apparently not. Apparently, for some strange reason I do not fully comprehend, the BD market in the UK is rather non-existent, even for something that came as a direct commission from the director of Spirou. That is, btw, how this all started. Arthur du Pins was given this job for a Halloween special edition for the magazine. But the thing became so popular, by 2010 the first volume was already out under the publisher Dib>buks.
So, why do I care so much about this? This BD came right as the recession of the late 2000s hit us, and the themes resonated with me at a very personal level. For starters, who doesn´t want to read a comic about a Halloween-like theme park, where the monsters are for realsies?! Well, that is what you get in Zombillenium. Understand that to a teen Goth, obsessed with roleplaying games, this was the dream: monster and magic. Awesome. It wasn´t just the imagery, though, but the obvious message that attracted me as I started reading: the outsiders, the left overs of society, the people who live in the fringe that are freaks for your entertainment in a circus. That was, and still is, a very real issue in our modern societies – and this is something you have heard me talking about a different comic for similar and different reasons: Rat Queens, and you can find my update here:
Ok so today I bring you something that perhaps will be a bit bizarre for me. You know how I don’t really follow these days much of their mainstream coming book lines? Well! The thing is just a couple of months ago – in fact to be precise as of May this year – Image decided to do a wonderful mashup of two of their main characters I love: SPAWN and Witchblade. And I have been thoroughly enjoying this so far – I think I am one number behind, but even so. The thing is mediaeval or dark ages spawn was always cool with you know the metal armour, weapons, the cape that flows like an absolute badass that sometimes you don’t really get the texture of it quite right in the more modern comic storylines. And of course Witchblade has always been cool through and through, no matter what – she’s awesome. And simply because of the very nature of the Witchblade and and how this evolves and interacts with the user this fits perfectly into the medieval setting. It just draws you in: armour, metal, shine, grip, monsters, death, Darkness – you know the drill.
So, of course I was not expecting it would disappoint, not at all, but I was certainly curious to see how they were going to take it because, well, the personalities of SPAWN and Witchblade could be somewhat conflicting and I wasn’t entirely sure of exactly what excuse they were going to give for the characters to join up storylines. And perhaps – as far as my reading goes – this is my hardest criticism. The first volume essentially tells you the story as to how SPAWN appears in this mediaeval setting which, by the way, doesn’t have any specific real Middle Ages locations to it. They leave it fairly vague which I’m cool with cause, you know, the scenery and the characters scream medieval of some form and that works. (You don’t really need to know the exact world/timeline names and background, the bits and bobs suffice if you see what I mean). The second volume is specifically dedicated to explaining how which plate comes into this story, which is fair, but because of the ascetics and introduction of both characters at separate stages, it is not the easiest thing to relate and assume they are in the same place/time/story. There is one only thing that ties them up together which is the presence of this particular villain, but that’s about it. In my opinion, perhaps it would have worked out better if instead of splitting them in #1 SPAWN #2 Witchblade, they would have put them together. I think it would have made it flow a bit better just so the reader could actually understand that these two storylines are happening in parallel correlation to each other. That is really that one thing that I thought “hmm, okay, I guess”. Well, that and the fact that, unlike in the case of Witchblade, you do not get a clear definite reason and to why and how is SPAWN here. (Neither at the end of either volume which I found a bit irritating but that could be the completionist in me…plus, like I said, one volume behind…though if I have to wait for #3 to get what I perceive to be an important part of the story…it better be decent plot development…anyway, I ramble!).
In any case, I think it’s pretty cool and I am really enjoying it. I really like the art work: but that is obvious, you know, a classic Brian Haberlin piece. He is a legend and has developed this aesthetic over years. I believe it’s the reason why it fits the medieval setting so well: not because of the dark and gloomy feel, which we could agree to a point to be cliche. But I think he adds to that romantic, stoic, hard core valiant epicness, full of blues and shiny silvers and golds. The balance and contrast in colour is delightful, even in scenes where you could get a certain feeling of monochromatic look, everything is distinct, and outlined to fit together harmoniously. In fact, at stages the general graphic composition starts reminding me of videogames of a fantasy setting – I’m particularly thinking of Skyrim here. It is difficult to explain without showing you the pictures, so just go buy the thing. The other thing that I liked was that with just a few lines of succinct and precise text, all the characters are well defined and understood. There is a bit of.an archetypal thing going on in that regards, but it does suit the genre and makes good use of tropes and motives in the medieval/fantasy sphere so, it works 🙂
Therefore, if you want something current, mainstream, and yet with a twist to read and enjoy visually, go get ’em Medieval Spawn and Witchblade – and then drop by tell me what you think.
If you are reading this, chances are that you have come seeking further knowledge from my previous post regarding comics about the Vikings and where to begin, plus where to go next. If not, well, you are in for a triple bill and you can find the first part of this here: https://manaburnt.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/my-comics-about-the-vikings-where-to-begin/
And the second one here: https://manaburnt.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/my-comics-about-the-vikings-one-step-further/
Today, however, I will be discussing comics that talk about the Vikings and that perhaps fall under the radar for various issues – mostly the language barrier.
Saxo Grammaticus History of the Danes – Graphic Novel
If you didn’t know that there was a comic book version of the History of the Danes written by Saxo Grammaticus, do not be alarmed – I didn’t either until I stumbled across it at Kronenborg Castle in Denmark! It is two volumes, emulating the original source. The sad news is that it is, indeed, all in Danish. However, for a Danish noob like me, I found that with a little help from a dictionary, and due to the fact that there is not a ridiculous amount of text, the images really help you understand what is happening so you can follow the narrative fairly well.
If you are reading this, chances are that you have come seeking further knowledge from my previous post regarding comics about the Vikings and where to begin. If not, well, you are in for a double bill and you can find the first part of this here: https://manaburnt.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/my-comics-about-the-vikings-where-to-begin/
So, you have gone around reading about Thorsfinn, Sven the Badass, the reckless Siegfried and our daring Valkyrie and you have thought to yourself: I need more. I need that extra layer. Then, you are now part of the brotherhood and I shall guide you throughout this process. The next three pieces I present you with provide different looks on to Early Scandinavian society and the Viking Age. The vary in tone and style. But I think, above all, what they provide us with is a further degree of immersion. Now I appreciate Northlanders is pretty good for that…but I never said it was about better quality: this is just about the extra bits.
Gods of Asgard
It’s been a while since I have gone down the comic business, mostly because I have been caught up with other stuff that was non-comic related. I have been playing lots of board games lately, I guess that has been more on my mind. But, as you all know, comics and I are like bread and butter. I have noticed that there was one thing that I had not done yet, which perhaps some of you may find interesting, and that relates to my studies directly. So as I have been revising my sources for a paper I am currently writing, I thought, “Hey, why not share some of these bad boys to the rest of our friends?”. Therefore, here I present you with my list of, badass, cool (and in most cases historically accurate) comics and graphic novels regarding the Vikings :3
You will find the big boys, aka Marvel and DC, do not publish much on the subject of historically related subjects in their mainstream stuff, which SUCKS. You gotta go to Image and independent publishers to get this sort of things. So if you haven’t heard of a lot of these people, don’t panic.
Today we bring you an interview with our good friends from Owlman Press Nic & Stack. Here they will tell you a bit about themselves, their company and projects, which are all very exciting. You have already heard about their work in this space from our review of Skum of the Stars -Skum of the Stars Review
It is thanks to their game that we met and we want to share their awesomeness with you – so hook up 🙂
Dear Stack and Nic, please first of all could you tell our readers, how did Owlman Press get to be? Could you explain to them a bit of your background as individuals and how this all ties in together? What are your roles?
Nic: I was raised on a farm in rural New South Wales. I grew up with a lot of Western movies and developed from a young age a love of the genre. As I grew older, I really wanted to make my own. That said, for someone who grew up wanting to write the area near us didn’t cater to many interests. It was either football or fishing (there was also tennis, but that was for the weird people). Writing certainly wasn’t one. So, I pretty much felt lost all the time, unable to explore my interests until I discovered that the nearby town had a comic store. There I discovered roleplay games in the form of Deadlands: The Weird West. My first experience playing was as the Game Master and I quickly found that the role gave me a vehicle to tell stories and develop writing skills in a way that I just didn’t have access to anywhere else. Again, after playing that for a bit I really wanted to make my own. By the time I was doing my PhD, examining the role of Tonto in the Lone Ranger, I’d consumed enough Westerns and a wide enough array of games to get a sense of what I both wanted to do and do differently with both. My first game, Frankenstein Atomic Frontier, really started as a vehicle for me to both – write westerns and roleplay games. Owlman Press came out of that.
In terms of roles, Stack and myself often initiate concepts jointly, talking about them back and forth. I typically flesh them out into actual background and add the rules. Stack manages the “public profile” side of things for our games along with managing the contacts and so forth. She is also the quality control, reading over everything to make sure it’s up to scratch. We also have great body of friends who help us develop our concepts and come around regularly to play. If you look in our books, you’ll see the same names popping up over and over again.
Stack: So, I grew up in a couple of small country town called firstly Clunes and then Scarsdale both of which are several hundred kilometres away from where Nic grew up. I enjoyed reading and writing from a young age as well as sports such as Roller Hockey until I experienced a sporting injury which has caused life-long complications and a chronic pain condition. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do once I finished high school. All I knew was that I really loved circus/sideshow and writing. So I enrolled into a professional writing and editing degree which is where I met Nic. I hadn’t played any table top RPG type games till I met him so a whole new world was opened up to me at that point. After we started dating we started several projects together, various magazines with other writers, a local writers group nothing really stuck, and eventually Owlman Press sort of developed out of these experiences, and as the games developed further. I look after the social media side of things mostly cause I’m a internet junkie and edit everything developed through Owlman.
I deferred my writing degree several times over the years as we grew our family – being a stay at home Mum for six years while Nic studied his PhD. I eventually went back and finished the final units to attain my writing degree in 2014 (three kids later!) I considered going onto BA Honours but personal experiences helped me find a new passion in women’s healthcare and pregnancy and birthing rights. So now I find myself studying nursing which I’m loving.
I guess this is just a fancy way of asking, how did you guys get to be so cool?! Because you are parenting, working, researching, making games, photography…I mean, do you guys sleep?! It takes some pretty special kind of people to get going what you have – apart from the fact that as people you two are just Cool, nice and pretty awesome. What is your secret? Do you struggle? We all know it is hard for independent creative people like yourselves to keep things going.
Nic: How did I get to be this cool? Easy – I do what every other cool Australian does. I hunt and kill a Dropbear every morning before sunrise, and then eat it for breakfast. Science and other sources show that eating a Dropbear is guaranteed to make you cooler. In all seriousness, however, I’m going to take the first part of that question as a compliment. I’m honestly just following my passions.
Today we bring you an interview with independent comic book author Emily Whitaker. She will be unveiling the story behind her latest creation of Ladies of Market Street, a comic about “crime-fighting hookers”.
The comic is out for sale through amazon and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N37BQ3T
You can also follow Emily on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ee_whit
So Emily, please tell us… We know you and Trey met at a local art show, and that is how you two managed to pull this off, because of your cool skills were like peanut butter and jam…But how did you come up with something as remarkable as crime fighting hookers?!
This is actually a story that has been with me for years now. I elude to the fact that the Ladies are also Real-Estate agents. I get into more of this in the next issue. But they use the vacant apartments for parties and to entertain their Johns and such things! And it is that Real-Estate Agency that first gave birth to this strange story. In 2003 I worked at a Real-Estate agency in New York and all the people were young artists. We would use the vacant apartments for everything… if we needed a bathroom, a place to change, or some privacy!!! My roommate was in love with an apartment on the upper east side that wouldn’t sell because they were asking too much. So every Sunday she would go there to paint because the sun would come through the windows just right! I wrote our story at first, but it was about that time that I was coming face to face with facts of human trafficking throughout the world and in the city. The only way I knew to fight it was to write about it. And to create women who were strong enough and savvy enough to truly fight something so heinous. So I put pen to paper and got to create these amazing women and fight the war the only way I knew how. It is a serious subject, but while I was writing it I felt I wanted to be friends with these women. And that is the joy I hope my readers have as well.